If you were to choose someone to be the Kevin Bacon of Six Degrees of Melbourne’s current indie music scene, Dan Oke would probably be your best pick. The prolific multi-instrumentalist has played in an impressive array of bands over the years, but it’s under his solo moniker Jarrow that he really shines. His self-titled third album was released in May and notably, every immaculate sound on the record was written and played by Dan himself, with the exception of a brilliant sax solo from his Dad. As a result, it’s an album with a singular vision, something that it definitely benefits from, with its unified and cohesive sound of bright synths, tight basslines and Dan’s boyish vocals.
Dan instantly gives you an idea of what you’re getting into with the brief but impactful intro Treason :/, seamlessly blending disparate elements of finger-picked acoustic guitar, impassioned autotune vocals and huge synth pads. It’s a brilliant reflection of the state of bedroom pop in the year 2020; pushing and pulling on the tropes and trends of mainstream music in a way that still keeps things digestible.
Lyrically, the album hits most of the bases expected of a Melbourne 20-something: self-deprecation, anxiety, internet culture and shopping at Savers. It’s often humorous, and always refreshingly sincere, particularly on album highlight Keep a Tab (On All My Friends). The song functions as a meditation on the difficulties of maintaining modern relationships, a topic that is only given more weight in the midst of our own current socially distant context. It also happens to be incredibly catchy. Give it a listen.
Dan’s musicianship is obvious but never overbearing, always there to serve the songwriting. The bassline of single Flowerbed captures this approach. Joyful and relentlessly buoyant, it only pulls back to let through a ridiculously beautiful vocal melody – perhaps the record’s best.
Jarrow is the sound of an artist who knows exactly what sort of music he wants to make and more importantly, why he wants to make it. It’s an album with intent, thoroughly deserving of the honour of the self-title and a treat for any listener interested in what modern Australian indie has to offer.
You can buy and listen to Jarrow here.
Marlon Toner-McLachlan is a Daylesford resident and Melbourne music enthusiast.